Thursday, July 21, 2011


Earlier this month, I rented a car from Enterprise to visit a friend and spend the night with my sister in PA. On the drive home on Sunday night, a nasty storm was crossing the area, but it came and went before I arrived. I was driving down the George Washington Parkway, just passing the Rt. 123/McLean area, when all of a sudden I noticed a bit of leaves on the road, and a lot of BARK. Usually, if there's a storm, you'll see twigs and small branches, but not BARK. Strange.... There was more and more of it as I got down the road, and then, the traffic came to a halt. As I slowed down, I saw a medium-size tree in the grassy median strip that had been SNAPPED in HALF! Wow. There must have been some kind of strong winds with that storm - and I was glad that I hadn't been there when it came through. I had about 20 minutes before the return-time on my rental car...and if I sat in this traffic jam, there's no telling how long I would have to wait. I think that a tree or two must have come down across the road up ahead and who knows how long before Park officials or police could come and cut it up and clear the road. I hope no one was hurt. I looked at the grassy median strip and decided to be bold and pull a U-turn over it. I was hoping that I wouldn't somehow get stuck or have difficulty getting across. I've never had to drive across the median strip before - - let alone, to merge with high-speed traffic coming the opposite way.

Thankfully, it went without a hitch, and I backtracked to the previous exit and took the Chain Bridge across to Canal Road on the Maryland side. When I got to the Key Bridge, I took that back across into VA, and believe it or not, made it Enterprise right on time!! :)

In dealing with a downed tree on a bike... all you do is lift your bike over (or even under!) the tree and keep on going. :) Big difference. Of course, you could also die if a tree or big branch hit you on your bike (same with being in a car...). In fact, just a few weeks ago, a man riding his bike on the C&O Canal was caught in a storm, and died when a fallen tree hit him. :( When you're on the C&O Canal, there's really hardly anywhere you can take shelter....there are trees all around. :( NOT a good situation.

When I'm at home or the office, and a storm is in full force or about to happen, I just stay put and wait it out (especially if there's lightning involved). If a storm happens when I'm out on my bike in the city, I duck into a store or doorway. If I'm in the suburbs, I take shelter in someone's carport. When you're on your bike, you get MANY signs that a storm is approaching, so you usually have a little bit of time to find some kind of good shelter. You just have to be aware of the changing conditions and not delay in finding shelter quickly.